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The Creationists are Coming . . . to New Hampshire?

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Republicans in New Hampshire have introduced two new anti-evolution bills for the 2012 session. One insists evolution be taught ‘as a theory’ and include the politics and religion of the scientists quoted, and the other requires teachers to instruct students not to accept an accepted theory as fact.

HB 1148: Theory of Evolution

The first bill, HB 1148, is introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17). The very short bill says:

Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

In other words, Bergevin hopes to avoid discussion of evidence in support of or against evolution, and resort to ad hominem attacks on evolutionary theorists.

While a science teacher who truly wants to teach science could easily skip through the requirements of the law — say, by teaching the theory of gravity the week before, and explaining what a ‘theory’ is to a scientist, compared to common misuse of ‘theory’ to mean ‘hypothesis’ — those teachers wanting to inject their religious and political views during science class would have a green light to do so:

“Today we’re going to talk about the THEORY of Evolution. Theories aren’t proven yet. There are many THEORIES about how life developed on Earth, but the THEORY of Evolution is the only one I’m allowed to talk to you about. Certain PEOPLE will not allow me to discuss God with you. They say it’s against the law, and un-American to talk about God in school!

“The inventor of the THEORY of Evolution was Charles Darwin. He was raised Unitarian. Unitarians think that all paths lead to God, even Islam or Hinduism! Isn’t that ridiculous?

“Darwin considered becoming a clergyman in the Church of England, but then he went and studied island creatures and decided to turn his back on God. He even described himself as an agnostic, and said he thought all religions were equally valid. Back to that Unitarianism again!

“We know too that Darwin was sexist, and thought men’s dominance over women was the outcome of selection. He also thought that European colonization and extermination of native peoples was a natural thing.

“We don’t know much about his politics, but since he was English, it’s safe to assume he was a socialist. Darwinism has been used to justify eugenics — that is, selective breeding of humans toward a master race, as practiced by the Nazis, and also the basis of Planned Parenthood’s campaign of genocide against poor minority people in America.

“For your essay question, explain how Darwinism has damaged American society.”

HB 1457: Scientific Inquiry

The second bill is introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7). It is also short, and reads as follows:

Scientific Inquiry. Require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.

This doesn’t seem so bad on the surface. It is important to investigate new evidence. So these gentlemen want students to keep an open mind. Great, right?

Well, that’s not really what they want. According to the Nashua Telegraph, Hopper initially sought a bill “requiring instruction in intelligent design in the public schools.”

Why, you ask? Because, according to Hopper, “Darwin’s theory is basically antiquated,” involving lightning striking primordial ooze to create amoebas. As the Telegraph columnist notes, current evolutionary theory has amoebas evolving from prokaryotes, after about 2 billion years of evolution. Looks like Hopper doesn’t really understand the theory he claims is antiquated.

A far more modern theory, Hopper believes, appears to be “a being or beings” creating everything out of nothing. Gee, sounds a lot like that really old hypothesis found in the Bible, doesn’t it?

But is Hopper concerned about getting at the truth? Not really. He wants children to feel ‘created’ and ‘special’:

“[At 17,] I had been filled with this theory of evolution, which if you really boil it down, is a theory that we are here by accident, that there is no purpose. The conclusion is that we’re a bunch of accidents … you really have no purpose for existence,” he said.

“Teaching a child that it’s very possible that they were designed would infer that they actually have a purpose. There’s some purpose they were created, so that is a reason to live. Right now, we’re teaching children that basically they’re animals.”

This is surely the most disturbing reason people give to reject evolution. It has nothing to do with the evidence for or against; they don’t like it because it means they weren’t created ‘special’.

It means they have to take responsibility for their own lives, and decide what meaning their lives will have . . . instead of having a meaning handed to them by a 2,000-year-old book.

It is also the most common refrain from the Religious Right. They know that the evidence is solidly stacked against their Creationist/Unintelligent Design viewpoint, so instead they resort to emotional appeals. “Evolution means you’re not special, you’re just an animal! Was your daddy a monkey? Of course not!”

No, of course not. According to the Bible, humans are descended from dirt.

I’m sorry that Mr. Hopper prefers to live in a fantasy in which he’s a special, individual creation simply popped into existence by magic, instead of the product of an amazing, complex, multibillion-year evolutionary process.

I think it’s a shame Mr. Hopper is unwilling to remove his own blinders for fear of seeing his own responsibility for his life’s meaning.

I find it inexcusable, indeed abusive, for him to try to put those same blinders on New Hampshire’s children, and bind them to the same terrified, powerless, pathetic worldview to which he so desperately clings.